Editorial Comment: Cancer and the herbal factor

Dr Josese Turagava. Picture: FILE

General surgery and pediatric surgery specialist Dr Josese Turagava has made no bones about the need for people not to rely on herbal medicine as a cure for cancer.

Speaking at the launch of the annual Bushells Fiji’s Biggest Morning Tea event in Suva on Wednesday morning, he insisted herbal treatment chewed up time.

The Colonial War Memorial Hospital specialist revealed that of the 250 new cases recorded in a year for breast cancer, doctors operated on only 60 to 70 patients.

The rest come in when it is too late, he said.

“Most of them, when diagnosed, go here and there looking for herbal medicine for a year or two,” he said.

“By the time they come to us, it’s already late and it goes to the last stage.”

Cancer, he stressed, could only be cured in its early stages.

“We can’t cure cancer at late stage,” he said.

“The best thing is that breast cancer is curable. We’ve got chemotherapy, we’ve got hormonal treatment, we’ve got surgery. But we can’t do anything when the patients come in very late.

“People in America, Australia and New Zealand are not dying with breast cancer because they are cured very early with mammograms.”

Awareness is important. The positive takeaway from this is the fact that it is important to pick up cancer in its early stages.

There are many things we may never be able to control in our lives.

However, when we talk about cancer, and mull over awareness campaigns, there is an element that we perhaps could have a say in.

Not many people will understand what families who have loved ones suffering life-threatening illnesses like cancer go through daily.

Early detection has always ranked highly in messages promoting cancer awareness. There is fear of the unknown.

Many families dread the thought of a loved one being affected by cancer. In the face of this common fear though should sit this realisation that early detection can save lives.

The key rests with us. But first we will have to remove the fear factor, and be bold enough to face the illness head on. It means embracing early detection and giving conventional treatment a chance.

To that end, there is a great need for vigilance and awareness.

The reality, and the end stage of cancer are frightening. No one denies that.

The very thought of being struck by cancer is frightening.

It still inches out great fear. In the face of that though sits that sense of optimism that there is hope in early detection.

People have survived and are telling their stories. Together we can fight cancer.

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